Frequently Asked Questions Proposition 65 and Bisphenol A (BPA)

When was BPA added to the Proposition 65 list?

At a public meeting in May 2015, the state’s Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee (DARTIC) unanimously determined that BPA was clearly shown to cause female reproductive toxicity.  This action added BPA to California’s Proposition 65 list, effective May 11, 2015.

What is the DARTIC?

The Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee (DARTIC) is a group of expert scientists appointed by the Governor. Its members include some of the state’s most distinguished scientific experts on reproductive health effects drawn from the University of California, Stanford University, the California State University system, and private industry.

What were the DARTIC’s conclusions about BPA?

Committee members reviewed more than 300 recent studies in both humans and laboratory animals on the female reproductive effects of BPA. The committee found that BPA can harm the female reproductive system, noting that BPA can interfere with the proper functioning of the ovaries.   

In the weeks prior to the meeting, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment posted scientific materials on the studies on its website, and conducted a 45-day comment period for the public to read and comment on them.  The Office forwarded the comments to DARTIC members for their consideration.     After a full day of presentations, public testimony and discussion of the scientific evidence, the DARTIC decided to list BPA by a unanimous 7-0 vote at its meeting on May 7, 2015.

What does a Proposition 65 warning for BPA mean?

Beginning May 11, 2016, Proposition 65 will require businesses to provide warnings for products that expose Californians to significant amounts of BPA.

Proposition 65 does not ban or restrict the use of BPA in these products.  It is a right-to-know law that is intended to enable Californians to make informed choices about exposures to chemicals that cause cancer or reproductive effects.  Products with warnings can be legally sold and are still required to meet all other applicable state and federal safety requirements.

What have other agencies said about BPA?

Government agencies have taken different positions on possible health hazards associated with BPA.  A few are noted below:

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of BPA in most food cans, bottle lids, and other food-packaging materials.   The agency’s website says: “FDA’s current perspective, based on its most recent safety assessment, is that BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in foods.”   In 2013, FDA amended its regulations to no longer allow the use of BPA in packaging for infant formula after the industry voluntarily phased out its use in infant-formula packaging.

The European Food Safety Authority has found that BPA can cause reproductive harm but that it does not pose health risks to consumers at current exposure levels.    However, the European Union places limits on the use of BPA in materials intended to come into contact with food. 

France banned the use of BPA in food contact materials for foods consumed within France, effective January 1, 2015.

In 2008, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services found “clear evidence” that high doses of BPA caused developmental effects in laboratory animals.  The agency said at the time that it had “some concern” for effects on the brain, behavior and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children at current levels of exposure to BPA.

In 2011, the California Legislature approved a ban on BPA in bottles or cups designed to be used by children three years of age or younger.  In 2012, FDA prohibited the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups after determining that BPA is no longer used in those products. 

In adding BPA to the Proposition 65 list in 2015, the California DARTIC discussed evidence from recent studies and scientific reviews of BPA.  The degree to which these studies and reviews may affect future decisions on BPA taken by other government agencies is not known at this time.

Have I been exposed to BPA? What should I do?

Studies have found that more than 90 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies, so almost everyone is exposed to BPA to some extent.  Future decisions on the use of BPA by government regulators, the food industry and other product manufacturers may be influenced by the substantial amount of continuing scientific research on BPA’s health effects.

The degree to which you should reduce your exposure to BPA is a matter of personal choice.  If you wish to reduce your BPA exposures, you can follow the suggestions in our companion fact sheets on BPA and BPA in canned and bottled foods. You can also look for Proposition 65 warnings or other information concerning the presence of BPA in plastic and paper products that may contain BPA.  Many manufacturers who have removed BPA from their products are beginning to label their products as BPA-free

Posted April 2016

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